Monday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Back from one holiday and into the next:

Retail
by Sarah Mahoney
“It just wasn’t the start to the holiday season that we were hoping for, and quite frankly, we were downright disappointed, especially given the recent buzz that shoppers might loosen purse strings for holiday gifting,” writes Retail Eye. … Read the whole story > >
Retail
by Tanya Irwin
“The attractiveness of captive store gift cards appears to be waning, particularly in an economy in which retail inventories are shrinking and consumption is concentrated on more practical purchases like food, gasoline and heating oil,” said Brian Riley, research director, bank cards, at the Needham, Mass.-based TowerGroup. … Read the whole story > >
Automotive
by Karl Greenberg
Kelley Blue Book’s latest Market Intelligence survey of in-market new-car shoppers suggests that new-car buyers are ready, willing and able — but the onus is on automakers to tell them that the deals are coming to the dance. … Read the whole story > >

This Black Friday, Online Coupons Big Winners

The 2010 Predictions


Tomorrow marks the first day of the last month of 2009 and then with the rush of the holidays and short work weeks, it will be 2010.

It’s also prediction time of the year. Today we have a piece from my email from TrendWatching.com:

2010 is rapidly approaching; we hope the December edition of our Trend Briefing, detailing 10 trends for 2010, will assist you in getting things going (again). Go straight to the Briefing, or quickly scan the 10 trends below:

1. BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL | Forget the recession: the societal changes that will dominate 2010 were set in motion way before we temporarily stared into the abyss. More »

2. URBANY | Urban culture is the culture. Extreme urbanization, in 2010, 2011, 2012 and far beyond will lead to more sophisticated and demanding consumers around the world. More »

3. REAL-TIME REVIEWS | Whatever it is you’re selling or launching in 2010, it will be reviewed ‘en masse’, live, 24/7. More »

4. (F)LUXURY | Closely tied to what constitutes status, which itself is becoming more fragmented, luxury will be whatever consumers want it to be over the next 12 months. More »

5. MASS MINGLING | Online lifestyles are fueling ‘real world’ meet-ups like there’s no tomorrow, shattering all predictions about a desk-bound, virtual, isolated future. More »

6. ECO-EASY | To really reach some meaningful sustainability goals in 2010, corporates and governments will have to forcefully make it ‘easy’ for consumers to be more green, by restricting the alternatives. More »

7. TRACKING & ALERTING | Tracking and alerting are the new search, and 2010 will see countless new INFOLUST services that will help consumers expand their web of control. More »

8. EMBEDDED GENEROSITY | Next year, generosity as a trend will adapt to the zeitgeist, leading to more pragmatic and collaborative donation services for consumers. More »

9. PROFILE MYNING | With hundreds of millions of consumers now nurturing some sort of online profile, 2010 will be a good year to help them make the most of it (financially), from intention-based models to digital afterlife services. More »

10. MATURIALISM | 2010 will be even more opinionated, risque, outspoken, if not ‘raw’ than 2009; you can thank the anything-goes online world for that. Will your brand be as daring? More »

We’re confident that applying the above to your business will bring you at least one profitable, zeitgeist-compatible innovation in 2010!

Best regards,

Reinier Evers
founder, trendwatching.com
reinier@trendwatching.com

Social Media Intoxication?

From MarketingCharts.com. (Click on the charts to make them BIGGER)

SocNet Users Enhance Relationships, Lose Inhibitions

Online social networking is becoming entrenched in everyday life and is profoundly affecting how US consumers connect with family and friends, shop and interact with retailers and brands, and participate in political and humanitarian issues, according to a recent study from Euro RSCG Worldwide.

The study and resulting white paper, “Social Life and Social Media” (pdf) explore the extent to which Americans have integrated social networking tools into their lives, and also reveal that this integration is causing a simultaneous expansion and narrowing of consumers’ perspectives. One one hand, social networks put the world at an consumers’ fingertips. On the other, social media’s hyperlocal nature enables them to focus, if they so choose, on issues, news and people around them.

Another finding from the study reveals that social networking is also causing a rise in what Euro RSCG calls “cyberdisinhibition” – the increased willingness to behave online in ways that wouldn’t be attempted in person. This phenomenon is making users bolder and driving them to inappropriate behavior.

An examination of internet searches for “social media” over the past several years shows the dramatic increase in interest:

euro-rscg-worldwide-rising-trajectory-social-media-november-2009.jpg

Relationships Enhanced

Despite buzz to the contrary, Euro RSCG said the study found that online social networking is enhancing rather than deteriorating, relationships among Americans. Though online has not replaced face-to-face – which remains the gold standard, it is working with it to keep people even more connected than ever.

  • More than half of respondents (54%) have met new people through electronic media.
  • Consumers are engaging in more of what Euro RSCG calls trialogues – multi-way exchanges of ideas and opinions among consumers and brands.
  • Consumers are not only more involved with family and friends, but they also have increased their involvement in political and humanitarian issues.
  • 40% agree that social groupings online can be truly social, while only 14% disagree. These figures differ very little across age, gender, ethnic or income groups.
  • 28% believe that online social networking enhances their social life offline.
  • 58% disagree with the statement that online social networking is for “sad, antisocial types.”

Inhibitions Lost

On a darker side, however, the study also found that online interaction through social media leads some people to drop inhibitions, creating antisocial behavior:

  • 42.6% of respondents say they feel less inhibited interacting online than face-to-face.
  • 20% say they lashed out at companies or products thanks to the anonymity of online interaction.
  • 31.5% say that online interaction let them do something they’d been wanting to do.

As a result of the study, Euro RSCG Worldwide suggests five key takeaways:

  1. Social media are now a vital consideration in any communications strategy in any country where digital media are accessible to citizens and consumers.
  2. It’s impossible to predict how bits of communication will spread across social media. As most traditional media converge online, communication flows among them, and consumers become messengers.
  3. The web is worldwide, but its emerging power is hyperlocal. This is the space where what’s virtual (online) meets what’s tangible (offline), with each reinforcing the other.
  4. Social media enable consumers to be more socially collaborative and to share easily across media types. But users now expect quick responses and clear payoffs. The underlying question is always: What’s in it for me?
  5. The more interactions happen online with no direct offline contact, the more likely people are to tilt toward extreme behavior. It’s important to blend both online and offline elements.

“Word of mouth has always been the most powerful marketing tool; what social media has done is dramatically increase the scale, velocity and immediacy with which people can influence each other and create the biggest revolution to hit our industry since television,” said David Jones, global CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide. “One of the interesting findings of the study is that it’s the combination of online and offline experiences that creates the biggest impact.”

About the study: Euro RSCG Worldwide commissioned MicroDialogue to conduct a study in October 2009 to map the trajectory of social life and social media usage in the United States. The study asked 1,228 Americans from all online demographics questions about social media usage in the past, present and projected future; about how people interact with, feel about and use social media; about how face-to-face interactions are affected; and about how engagement with local and global political issues has been affected, among others. The research also included an analysis of thousands of verbatims and other conversations across blogs, Twitter and forums.

Fixing your Sales Mistakes

From Drew:

What are your sales mistakes costing you?

Posted: 28 Nov 2009 05:34 AM PST

Screen shot 2009-11-27 at 9.14.30 PM When you lose a client or are pitching business that you don’t win — do you know why you weren’t chosen?

Most business leaders, if they were being honest, would have to admit they don’t.

RainToday wants to offer some insights from their new report Deal or No Deal: Sales Mistakes that Turn Buyers Away. (you can download it for free here).

The biggest sales mistake? We’ve talked about it before but apparently, you weren’t listening. The #1 mistake…Not listening. Shocker.

But….the real shocker is when you look at the chart that shows both the biggest mistakes AND the “much more likely to buy if they improved” items. Then you begin to truly understand the cost of some of those shortcomings.

One of the mistakes I find most startling is the “did not respond to my requests in a timely manner.” Seriously people — they’re asking to buy and you don’t get back to them? Apparently 30+% of businesses out there actually make this faux pas. A whopping 57% of respondents say that if a business was better about this — they’d be much more likely to buy.

Duh. Shame on any business who makes this sadly common mistake.

The entire report is eye-opening. Download it today. And don’t forget to visit RainToday’s blog. Check it out here!

So….you’ve realized that you’re making some of these huge sales mistakes. What should you do? How about getting some new sales habitudes? That’s right….a new set of attitudes and habits that will get your sales on the right track.

My friend Jeff Garrison has written an excellent e-book on sales habitudes and is offering it to you for free!

Chapters include …

  • A Business Owner’s Biggest Challenge
  • The Genesis of Sales Habitudes
  • The Sales Habitudes Explained

Download it today….and get yourself on the right sales track!

There you have it…one report to help you learn what you’re doing wrong and the another to help you get back on the straight and narrow! Download them both and then get out there and make some serious sales!

The Price Game

that you don’t want to play.

From Drew:

Don’t play chicken with your pricing

Posted: 23 Nov 2009 08:02 AM PST

87719758 Remember the old game? You’d aim your bike or your car at another bike or car and barrel towards each other. Whoever swerved before the collision was “the chicken.”

Lots of businesses play the same game with their pricing. They lock on with a prospect and offer up their price. The prospect says something to the effect of….”we really want to buy it, but that’s a little expensive. What can we do about the price?”

The metaphorical headlights are in your eyes. You want the sale. You know you can do the job well. So maybe if you knock a few dollars (…or hundreds, or thousands) off, you can earn their business and prove to them how good you are.

Stop right there.

If you do that once, you’ll be asked to do it every time. By playing chicken and being the one to swerve, here’s what you’ve communicated to the potential buyer:

  • My prices aren’t firm — you should always negotiate
  • I wasn’t being as fair with you as I could have been…I had some pad in my pricing
  • I don’t have enough confidence in my product/service to sell it for full price
  • We don’t believe in our own brand — we’re willing to compete on price

Do you really want to communicate any one of those things to your clients and prospects? I doubt it.

Instead, here’s how to handle price objections.

First — price fairly. To them and to you. Be confident that you can over deliver on the price paid and be a genuine value. Don’t price to be a loss leader or get in under the other guys. Charge what you are worth but with a nod of consideration to the market and being competitive.

Second — never apologize for justify your price. You can’t do either without sounding defensive and you have nothing to be defensive about. And once you’ve lowered your price — you will never be able to charge full price again.

Third — acknowledge their concern by helping them stay within budget. Try something like….”I completely understand your budget constraints. If you only have $5,000 to spend, let’s look at our proposal and see what we can modify (# of options, turnaround time, features, add ons, etc.) to get you down to your ceiling.” In other words….take something away or somehow modify your proposal to accommodate their budget.

This is you respecting your original pricing AND respecting their checkbook. In our experience, 90% of the time, you will not lose the sale. They’ll either opt for your modifications at their reduced budget (if their budget constraint are real) or they’ll end up accepting your original proposal (if they were using budget as an excuse to try to get you to reduce your price.)

Fourth — recognize that sometimes this is your brand’s way of helping you recognize that this is not a good customer for you. If you just can’t make the numbers work for them — they aren’t your customer. Be gracious and if you want, even suggest some lower cost alternatives.

Bottom line is — don’t de-value your work by playing chicken with your pricing. If you are good at what you do, about 20-30% of the time — people should push back on your prices a little.

I have a very successful friend whose philosophy is…”I want them to gulp a little when they hire us. We’re an investment, not a commodity. Then it’s our responsibility to make sure they come to believe their investment was a wise one.”

5 Twitter Rules For Business


from a RainToday story:

Like most social technology sites in worldwide use today, companies big and small are scrambling to convert Twitter from a simple networking tool to a legitimate way of increasing revenues and decreasing costs. Unfortunately, most of these businesses are learning just enough about Twitter to be dangerous. And annoying. And in some cases, unethical.

Although many of us would love to see each new Twitter account issued with a comprehensive user guide and rulebook, the fact is Twitter users can pretty much do whatever the want. Because of this complete lack of standardization (other than the 140-character limit on tweets) businesses across the globe are using Twitter to annoy potential customers at record rates—faster than they ever could have hoped to annoy them through other, more traditional marketing channels such as direct mail and direct email.

With the above in mind, below are five rules that should NEVER be broken by people trying to use Twitter for business purposes. This article is not written for pyramid schemers, get-rich-quick experts, professional traffic whores, or the kid from Amsterdam trying to find a million Twitter followers before the end of the year. This post is designed to help people who run REAL small companies figure out how to use Twitter—a simple, yet complicated micro blogging technology—to gain a market advantage.

Rule #1: Don’t Bombard Your Followers
Anyone who has been on Twitter for more than a week has at least one follower who sends six tweets in rapid succession multiple times per day or sends one tweet every 20 minutes like clockwork. Here’s a tip: unless you work for a national news organization, your company is NOT important enough to justify this volume of communication. As a small company, sending one relevant piece of news to your followers per day is plenty.

Rule #2: Tweet Only When You Have Something Interesting to Say
If the extent of your tweet is going to be a rehash of an inspirational thought from your new desk calendar, don’t bother. Tweeting famous quotes, personal observations, and headlines from ESPN’s breaking news section are also off limits. Listen to mom on this one: if you don’t have something relevant to say, don’t open your mouth—or in this case, don’t type.

Rule #3: Don’t Follow People Indiscriminately
When it comes to using Twitter for business purposes, the belief that there are no “bad” followers is absolutely spot on. Regardless of what your company does, someone voluntarily electing to hear from you might not always be good, but it is NEVER bad. The reverse, however, is not true. Making a poor decision about whom your company follows on Twitter could cost you a significant amount of fans over time. Do the math: if you run a Twitter feed for your business and choose to follow Al Gore or Rush Limbaugh, you have a 50/50 chance of offending every U.S. visitor to your Twitter site. In the case of selecting Twitter followers, the rules of cocktail party conversation always apply: avoid politics, religion, and polarizing celebrities.

Rule #4: Avoid the Temptation to Re-Report the News
As a blogger who cranks out two or three original articles every week, I understand how difficult it can sometimes be to come up with fresh content. That said, sending your loyal followers a link to CNN’s latest article on the swine flu is a poor excuse for customer contact. If something really big happens in the world, there is one thing you can absolutely count on when it comes to Twitter: within two minutes, everyone will already know.

Rule #5: Stop Trying to Make a Sale Every Time
Understanding all of us have bills to pay, even the best cooks in the world take the chef’s hat off every now and then. If you condition Twitter followers to expect a sales pitch every time they hear from you, your followers will quickly build up immunity to your tweets and simply stop reading them. Between sales and marketing messages, be sure to mix in a good amount of “no strings attached” communications—industry facts, trivia nuggets, and short “thank you” notes for supporting your company.


Eric Rudolf runs THEsmallCOMPANYBLOG in his spare time and is director of marketing for one of the fastest-growing professional development and training companies in the world. Eric can be reached via email at eric@thesmallcompanyblog.com.